Men and women have been searching for love for centuries. With each century comes a new way of finding that one special person. In the year 2010 it seems many rely on computers and online dating, where as the upper class of long ago Regency England simply relied on each other and social situations to foster the perfect match. In fact, I believe the English ton could quite possibly have been the equivalent of today’s Match.com. The Beau Monde didn’t need computers, they had matriarchs, patriarchs, uncles, grandparents, and guardians arranging matches faster than the high speed internet connection I have in my office.
You might ask how I came to this hairbrained conclusion. Actually, the thought popped into my head while reading Julia Quinn’s Ten Things I Love About You. Annabel Winslow and Sebastian Grey are the unlikely pair in this deliciously witty romance. They’re unlikely because, One: Annabel isn’t anything like the women Sebastian has 'dated'. Two: Sebastian doesn’t have what Annabel needs. This leads us to Three: Sebastian’s uncle, Lord Newberry. Four: follows nicely because Lord Newberry needs an heir, and Five: he's decided that Annabel is the one to provide said heir, unfortunately, Six: Annabel needs Lord Newberry's money. Seven, Eight and Nine are the rest of the plot, which I won't reveal. But Ten is important because it's the crux of this post: Annabel and Sebastian don't travel in the same social circles and couldn't be more different.
It was the differences that jumped out at me and had me wondering: If Sebastian and Annabel lived in today’s digital world, would they have found each other through an online dating service? Or, would they have seen each other’s profile and clicked ‘next’.
Allow me to illustrate:
Profile: Annabel Winslow
Looking for: I am a country girl seeking a man with money
Age: Between 20 and 25
ZIP/Postal Code: Gloucestershire, England
Current Position: Eldest of eight children. Father deceased and it’s my job to marry wealthy to protect my family from certain ruin.
Body type: Bossomy, curvy, and it’s been said that I have big birthing hips
Interests: Racing against turkeys
Profile: Sebastian Grey
Looking for: I am a man looking for women. (If truth be told I don’t have to look far, they typically seek me out.)
Age: I’m in my prime
ZIP/Postal Code: London, England
Current Position: I don’t have to work, but I do have a secret profession that earns me a handsome sum.
Body Type: Heartstoppingly handsome
Sports: Skipping stones, Darts
Looking at these profiles, I’d have to say we’re not talking a perfect match here. What woman wants a rogue? What sophisticated unattached man about town is looking for a woman with eight siblings to support? And I’ve got to ask, when was the last time racing turkeys was a fashionable and attractive attribute you’d want in a partner? However, Julia Quinn is a captivating storyteller who writes masterful dialogue allowing this story and this unlikely couple to work—from cover to cover. It proves that the differences between Sebastian and Annabel make them not only an interesting pair, but a pair whose romance and passion are paramount.
So, in answer to my own question, “Would Match.com have paired some of the greatest heroes and heroines we know in romance novels?” I’d have to say no. And mores the pity, because I shudder to think where my romance collection would be without Jamie and Claire, Eve and Roarke, and Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Quite simply no computer would have matched them up.
What would an online profile look like for your favorite heroe and heroine?
Maria Lokken is an avid romance reader and an award winning television producer.